ELIZABETH — A city man was sentenced Thursday to life in state prison after being found guilty of raping four couples at motels in separate occasions.

Rasheed Powell, 43, was hit with a stunning 148-year prison sentence by Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch, who called Powell's violent and perverted crimes a "reign of terror" and an “incomprehensible hell.”

Prosecutors said Powell forced his way into the Swan Motel in Linden and the Spring Lane and Royal motels in Elizabeth, all along Routes 1&9 over the course of six weeks in 2012.

He held up the couples at gunpoint, forcing them to engage in sexual acts. Powell would then lock up the men in another room and rape their female partners, sometimes forcing the women to shout compliments about Powell so that their companions would hear, prosecutors said.

Before leaving, Powell threatened to kill the unmarried couples and their families if they called police.

He was finally arrested in April 2012 after showing up to answer a traffic ticket at Springfield Municipal Court.

Prosecutors used DNA and forensic evidence to identify the career criminal as the suspect and to secure a guilty verdict.

Before the sentencing, the court heard from some of Powell's victims, including a woman who was attacked along with her college sweetheart. The woman eventually married her boyfriend but said she no longer goes out at night and suffered from nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.

“I lost so much of myself, I didn’t even recognize what was left of me,” she said.

Another victim faced Powell and told him that he had robbed her of her innocence.

“I’ve always been told that the world is unfair. But I don’t believe that. It is monsters like you who taint the world and make it unfair,” the victim said.

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